Review by airlai

"Solid adventure, but feels formulaic"

I will start out by pointing out that I've played the original GB Zelda as well as Oracle of Ages (thus, I played Seasons as the second game in the Oracle series). With that in mind, it may be understandable why I thought Seasons felt a bit formulaic and run-of-the-mill; however, I do believe there's some credence to the opinion that this game doesn't quite have what it takes to qualify as a great, classic addition to the Zelda series.

Oracle of Seasons -is- most definitely a solid Zelda adventure. Its shortcoming is not related to any sort of substantive fault in gameplay -- it is very much a good game -- but is rather rooted in the fact that it just doesn't bring enough freshness and originality to the table. The storyline did not impress me at all; it almost seemed like a makeshift plot, seeing as how Din (a main impetus behind the whole quest) barely makes any appearances in the game. The concept of and descriptions for the Essences of Nature were almost laughably simple, and none of the sidequests were really -that- engaging. The premise of changing seasons is horrendously underutilized; each season is characterized by one or two factors (for example, vines grow and ponds dry up during the summer, and mushrooms are ripe for picking during autumn), and the you-gotta-find-a-stump thing just feels kind of random and out-of-place.

Even if I had played Seasons first and Ages second, I think I still would have very much preferred Ages' more fully developed storyline and cast of characters, its well-executed time-travel system (you can't miss when you lift something straight out of Zelda 3), and more challenging dungeons. Seriously, some of the puzzles in Seasons are just laughable, and it's a shame -- even though Nintendo/Capcom touted Ages as the cerebral game and Seasons as the hack-and-slash game, certain aspects of the latter (such as finding the floodgate key in the same room where you're told it's missing) simply should not have been so dumbed-down.

Of course, the two Oracle games -are- similar in a lot of ways, but they really aren't as tied together as you might expect. Considering that these games are supposedly two halves of a single whole, it's a little surprising that they don't share more characters and crossover. The system of getting passwords in one game and inputting them in the other is a pretty nice touch, but it isn't enough to really make you feel like Labrynna and Holodrum have anything to do with each other.. you just hear the other kingdom's name randomly, without getting any idea of their relation to each other. This weak connection between the two games makes you wonder -- Nintendo/Capcom had originally planned on making the Oracle series a trilogy, before scrapping the third game near the end of the development process. Had that third game remained, how much weaker and watered-down would the crossover storyline be? It's a bit of an intriguing thought, and it gives you the feeling that these two games should be better than they are.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 08/10/01, Updated 08/22/01

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